Covered Skylights – By: Chris Collier

We have done numerous articles about skylights, here is another.  These building features can be an asset to firefighters assigned to the roof as a means for quick ventilation.  Their location, many times above the interior stairs, makes them an ideal vertical ventilation location.  Relieving the interior stairs of smoke will help civilians evacuate, possibly increase visibility for the forcible entry team, and allow the engine to stretch to the proper location a little easier. 

Conversely, skylights can be dangerous to an unknowing firefighter, especially on a smokey roof.  Leaking skylights are many times replaced by removing the skylight and roofing over the area that was once the skylight.  If you are lucky this area of the roof will be raised and it will be obvious that this situation exists.  If not, the skylight can be covered over flush with the rest of the roof, increasing the danger. 

The quality of this patch job is where our concern lies.  If this area is properly framed out, covered with plywood, and then roofed over we are in pretty good shape.  Often these openings are covered with only a thin piece of plywood with no framing underneath and then covered with roofing material.  As you can see in this photo the once skylight has been framed out with 2×4" and then covered with plywood and rolled roofing. 

A few roof safety tips:

  • Be cautious of any area that appears to have been patched

Any patched area can be hazardous, not only roofed over skylights.  Patches normally indicate an area that was leaking.  The roof surface has been repaired to stop the leak but the water damage to the structural components beneath can not be seen. 

  • Avoid walking across roofed over skylights
  • If you can't see, crawl
  • Cross from building to building in the front

Other related articles:

Opening Scuttle and Skylight Returns

Parapet Walls

Coping Stones

Safely Traversing The Roof


7-9-8 Ventilation Cut


  • Tom Cook -Chicago FD H&L 59 says:

    Remember when your doing your initial assessment of the roof that back porches usually have a hatch and being on the roof of a back porch is one place you NEVER wanna be. Also I have seen some access hatches above elevator shafts. Removing or cutting this hatch draws smoke into to elevator shaft thus rendering elevators useless.

  • ShamrockDriver says:

    Like they teach in rookie school…sound the roof as you walk. Sound it loud.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

background image Blogger Img

Brotherhood Instructors Blog

We specialize in the basic fundamentals of firefighting. While we believe that hazardous materials, terrorism, emergency medical and the various rescue disciplines are essential parts of the Fire Service, we also think that the basic fundamentals of firefighting have been overlooked in recent years. We are here to help turn that trend in the other direction.

FE Talk: Humpday Hangout

Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure – Mark Hall, Guest Blogger
Being a firefighter must be real tough job, thanks for giving us an insight about the many risks in that field.
2014-01-16 09:04:59
carroll price
Power Saw Decompression Valves – By: Andrew Brassard
Some smaller chainsaws like the Stihl 025 are very hard to start because they are not equipped with a compression relief valve. Anyone who owns one of these saws will probably tell you that it was not as hard to start when new as it became later on. My theory, as to why this happens,…
2013-12-23 18:04:43
Chris Cahoon
Another Rex Tool Modification – By: Andrew Brassard
Andrew, I am looking to have this mod done. The first thing I need to do is purchase a Rex Tool. Do you recommend getting the original Rex and cut the handle of as you have done here or buy the Lil Rex and try to modify that version? Thanks bro, Chris
2013-02-03 15:34:13
History of Lock Pulling Tools
I cant believe how quickly things have moved on. Imagine how things will have moved in the next 100 years. wow. Remember cassette tapes... people will be saying.. remember ipads hahaha
2012-09-03 06:12:14
Asbestos and Mesothelioma Lawsuits The Best Asbestos Lawyer
Firefighters and the Risk of Asbestos Exposure – Mark Hall, Guest Blogger
[...] exposure, ask your doctor about asbestos, cancer and other health complications.Create a video blog Bruce Peters asked: Exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of serious health problems late...s, were exposed to asbestos at some point during their occupational history. A number of occupations [...]
2012-08-15 12:36:40

Photos from Past Classes

Visit Our Youtube Channel

Sign up for our Email Newsletters

* indicates required

FireEMS Blogs eNews

Sign-up to receive our free monthly eNewsletter